The desktop is dead, naysayers roar. But, as technology pundits have become infamous for doing, the grave has been dug too soon.
To hear it from HP, the desktop space is a great market to be in, at least in the commercial space. The consumer side of things is decidedly more grim, and even HP admits that, but enterprises still need—and will need for a very long time—desktops.
"You hear that desktops are dying, but it's actually a bigger market than the notebook market [commercially]," Carol Hess, vice president of commercial PC product management, explained to Techvibes at HP Discover 2013 this week.
It's not a growing market, Hess confesses, but at 90 million units, it remains sizeable. "Desktops are going to be around for a long time," she affirms.
Hess cites four key value propositions that make desktops appealing over, say, notebooks or tablets. The first is the total cost of ownership: desktops last longer in workplace than notebooks or tablets in virtually every instance. This is tied in with the second proposition, expandability—desktops are great for upgrading individual specs like RAM or graphics cards, allowing them to be expanded and upgraded over the years instead of replacing notebooks or tablets with completely new devices.
Desktops also carry with them an inherent level of security. "No one ever forgot a desktop in the back of a taxi," Hess laughs. "There's security in the sense that your product always remains in the workplace." Notebooks and tablets, meanwhile, are much more easily lost or damaged.
Finally, desktops boast performance. As rapidly as technology evolves, desktops will always deliver more power than notebooks or tablets—it's simply what they're built for.
The fact that the desktop is alive and will remain alive for the foreseeable future boils down to a simple concept illuminated by Hess: "Different devices make sense for different people." The notebook didn't kill the desktop because both devices serve different functions, much like how the tablet hasn't killed the notebook.
"You are seeing a shift to tablets on the commercial side, but not nearly as much on the consumer side," Derek Everett, a senior director of product management, told Techvibes. "It's a very stable business."
The desktop is seen by many as a dinosaur, but HP is determined to continue to innovate the product category. At Discover, the company launched a slew of new products, including a top-end all-in-one machine dubbed the EliteOne 800 G1, which features a sleek, Apple-esque design—but more important, a touchscreen and highly adjustable stand, which transforms it from a static desk monitor into a device that offers a plethora of interesting use cases.
The desktop market isn't likely to grow—even HP knows that. But that doesn't make it unimportant and it certainly doesn't mean the desktop is dead. HP knows that, too, and appears well poised to lead the space into the future.